When Jacek Cieluszecki enters one of the local trail races, it isn’t always just a question of whether he can win the race. He also often looks at the course record and works out what sort of performance he’d need to put in to beat that. And quite frequently, for JC, that is achievable.
He did exactly that at the Black Hill Run 10k on the last weekend of September, recording a phenomenal time of 37:57 for a 6.5 mile route with 650ft of elevation. His average pace of 5:49 demonstrated just why no one else had gone faster in any of the previous years.
The year before he did the same thing at the CapTEN, which was a very hilly race incorporating the two highest points on the South West Coast. The course had even been changed, with an additional climb being added but it didn’t stop Jacek tearing round it in a quicker time than anyone else has.
He was also victorious recently in The Beast, which is renowned for being an extremely brutal race with 1,900ft of climbing over the course of the 12.5 mile route. On that day, JC won by a margin of over eight minutes on his nearest rival Christopher Peck, who himself is a very quick runner.
The Studland Stampede is a very tough, off-road event that includes a fair bit of running over the sand and shingles. Every year it can be different, depending on how the weather had been. It can be muddy or soggy if it’s been wet, but on the other hand, if it’s been too dry, the sand can be really hard to run on.
Looking at the winning times from previous years, it was Gareth Klepacz who had the quickest ever time in 43:19, which was back in 2008. Barry Staldet did it in 43:55 the following year and that was the only other time anyone had done it in under 44 minutes. Craig Palmer completed the course in 44:47 in 2017.
It was certainly going to take something special from Jacek if he was going to challenge that course record but it was worth a go. Geoff Newton, Kirsty Drewett and Jayne Wade were also in the line up representing Bournemouth AC and they were all huge fans of races of the off-road persuasion.
Despite being over 70, Geoff is extremely enthusiastic in his running and competed in both the Black Hill Run 10k and The Beast as well as the first Wessex Cross Country League fixture.
Kirsty and Jayne were also present at the first Wessex Cross Country League fixture and Kirsty has done some extremely demanding trail races, including the Giants Head Marathon and the Dorset Ooser Marathon earlier in the year. They ran together in last year’s Studland Stampede, clocking a time of 1:27:21.
The only real climbing in the race happened from just before the half mile point up to about 1.7 miles. That was an incline of over 250ft. As he tends to be though, Jacek was very quick up the hill, registering a 5:49 for his first mile and a 6:12 for his second mile. In fact, that’s one of the main things that sets him apart from the rest. His climbing ability is simply sublime.
From there there was a downhill stretch that went on all the way to 3.6 miles, allowing JC to pick up some real speed. He notched a 5:15 for his third mile and a 5:28 for his fourth mile.
The rest of the race was on the flat and Jacek kept the pace high with a 5:32 fifth mile. On the sixth mile he hit the sand dunes but still managed a 6:10 before heading across the sand for the final mile and a half.
The wind had picked up slightly by this point as well which made it even harder and going over the sand really sucked his power. Getting through the seventh mile in 5:52 and the last half a mile at 6:02 pace, JC made it to the finish line to pick up a resounding win. But had he managed to steal the course record?
In fact, his finishing time was 43:34, meaning he’d just missed out on a course record by 15 seconds. It was agonisingly close but that final stretch across the sand scuppered it for him.
It was still the second fastest time ever though and that was still a remarkable achievement from JC. It’s very difficult to compare year on year though, due to the difference in conditions and the firmness of the sand on the day. These a major factors in the Studland Stampede.
The next man to reach the finish was George Grassly of Dorking & Mole Valley. He came in almost five minutes after JC though, so it was a very emphatic win for the main man.
Robert Doubleday of Poole AC was 3rd in 50:29 with James Wallace of Fleet & Crookham AC taking 4th in 51:23. Littledown Harrier Mark Packer claimed 5th place and 1st Male 50-59 with his time of 51:39.
It was actually quite hot on the day and Kirsty usually struggles in those kind of conditions. Hence she settled for a good, hard effort with a group. Reaching the finish line in 1 hour 1 minute and 4 seconds, Kirsty was 6th fastest female on the day, out of 186.
Overall, she finished 61st out of 393 and that was a decent result for Kirsty and one she could be fairly pleased with.
Finishing 3rd in the 70+ category, Geoff Newton completed the course in 1:06:48 which put him in 117th place overall.
Beating her time from last year by almost three minutes, Jayne Wade crossed the line in 1:24:38, which put her 282nd place overall. Out of the women in the race, she was 106th and in the Female 50-59 category she was 35th.
Thoroughly enjoying the race, Jayne went on to enjoy lunch in the café after, rounding off a decent day out for her.
Jacek’s wife Ela ran as well and she was 24th female, clocking a time of 1:08:09. That put her in 132nd position overall and 7th Under 40 female.
Anna Philps of Pubeck Runners was 1st female, getting round in 53:09 which put her in 10th place overall. Hayley Higham was 2nd quickest woman, crossing the line in 53:46 which put her in 15th place overall. Virginie Morris of Dorchester RIOT was 3rd female and 29th overall with her time of 55:56.
After getting so close to it on this occasion, perhaps Jacek will be temped back to the Studland Stampede again next year for another crack at the course record. If he does, you certainly wouldn’t bet against him getting it.